Tecnam P92 and the Piper J-3 Cub – brothers from different mothers
There are plenty of articles that talk about the very specific niche that is the Light Sport Aircraft (LSA), but I thought it would be fun to discuss it from a little different perspective.
What would I buy? Monocoupe
This is the fifth installment in a series of articles based on a hypothetical set of airplane ownership criteria. Note: This information is strictly the opinion of the author. Your mileage may vary.
Ok, I’m not talking about “flying the jungles of South America” kind of Amazon Aviator. I’m referring to the cyber-jungle that is Amazon.com. Why am I a big fan of Amazon? Because you can find almost anything at the click of a button and aviation paraphernalia is no exception.
It’s not just about books anymore! Although Amazon does have an unrivaled selection of books, it also has about anything else you might want.
Most of the things you will read on this blog about flying is that it’s all unicorns and rainbows! It’s true that flying is one of the most amazing experiences of your life, but it’s not without its frustrations.
I Love Biplanes!
One of the most existential things you can do as an aviator is fly a biplane, especially an open cockpit variety.
What would I buy….Beechcraft Bonanza
This is the fourth installment in a series of articles based on a hypothetical set of airplane ownership criteria. Note: This information is strictly the opinion of the author. Your mileage may vary.
The goal this time will be to spend $40,000 for a nice certified aircraft (not LSA or Experimental).
So if I was limited to the criteria above what would I buy? As the title already gave away, it would be a Beechcraft Bonanza
The Bonanza is a timeless classic that enjoys excellent flight characteristics and a cult-like following. The only complaints being the V-tail can provide some yawing in turbulence, but there are countermeasures for that and it’s not a biggie for me – my passengers might disagree. The other complaint is maintenance costs. The final complaint I hear is that there are several 4 place high performance aircraft in its category that have better performance. This isn’t a shootout article on the best high piston single; this is what I would buy if I had $40,000.00 burning a hole in my pocket.
The Bonanza has been in continuous production since 1947, which makes it the longest continuously produced airplane in the world.
I have to admit, I was influenced at an early age to avoid the Bonanza. Why? How could a bad design endure for 66 years? It wasn’t the airplane is was the people. The guys at my local field that were the most ‘unfriendly’ were the Bonanza drivers. So a stereotype was quickly inserted upon my pea-brain and a great design was dismissed, at least in my mind.
All the Bonanza purists out there are screaming and spitting at their monitors right about now. Sorry, I was young and impressionable.
Fast forward 25 years and my opinion has ‘matured.’ Having flown Bonanzas I know it to be a truly a good airplane and it shouldn’t suffer from a few ‘bad apples.’
NO EXPERT HERE: Although I have flown several of the models, I can’t provide a detailed analysis because there is so much to know. In 66 years of production, you need a PhD to decipher all the nuances from year-to-year. I actually intend to buy one, or at least an airplane in the same class, sometime in the future so I’m anxious to learn as much as possible. I was referred to this book as the definitive on all things Bonanza: Those Incomparable Bonanzas by Larry A. Ball. As of this writing, I haven’t purchased it yet.
There have been over 17,000 built, so like I said there’s a lot to know and choose from. I have seen prices for ferry-able older examples below $18,000.00 (obviously needed some serious work) and at the opposite end of the scale, prices that are twenty times my budget (brand new G36).
Early models have a 6 cylinder Continental of 185hp or 225hp – referred to as ‘E engines’ by their model designation. In asking some owners about the vintage Bonanzas there seems to be a desire to avoid these E engines to some degree in favor of an 0-470 (or IO-470 or IO-520) which might be retrofitted or standard in the later models. The used market does suggest a price bump for the 470 (or 520) as compared to its predecessor. I’m not qualified to say ya or nay, other than to say that the E engines must not be too bad as it was factory installed on Bonanzas for the first 10 years of their existence. I image it has to do with fewer mechanics qualified to work on the older engine and the decreased horsepower – Americans aren’t getting smaller. Shop accordingly.
Stats: 1957 H35 Model shown (closest to $40k avg retail according to the American Bonanza Society). This is also an O-470 powered machine (240hp).
|Aircraft specifications (all data from Hawker Beechcraft)|
|Wingspan||32 ft 9 7/8 in||Max TO weight||2,900 lbs|
|Length||25 ft 1¼ in||Useful load||1,067 lbs*|
|Height||7 ft 7 in||*Varies widely by year and individual aircraft|
|Max cruise speed||190 mph (165 kt)|
|Max range (45-min reserve)||410 nm|
|Fuel capacity (standard)||40 U.S. gallons (34 usable)|
If you are a low timer, insurance will probably not be kind, but it can be obtained with the right set of circumstances. As you build experience the amount should come down, but as a retractable gear, it’s always going to be more than it’s fixed gear brethren.
- Those Incomparable Bonanzas
- Flying the Beech Bonanza
Here’s a recent ad from Trade-a-plane for a 1957 H35 with a mid-time engine for $39,975.00:
Honorable mentions that I would certainly consider:
- Mooney M series
- Piper Comanche
For you Bonanza aficionados out there, please correct me if my facts are off, I’d love to hear from you. If you are a fan of the competition, I’d enjoy hearing your thoughts as well.
You might have read in a previous entry <link here> about how I replaced the spark plugs due to a bad magneto check.
Last Saturday was my first opportunity to test fly it since then and I was excited to go.
Arriving at the airport with temps in the mid 30s I plugged in the homemade preheater and started my customary preflight inspection.
All was well and after about thirty minutes of preheating I pushed the -8 out of the hangar. Start up was my first indication of a problem. It cranked very slow; I should have anticipated a low battery since its been sat so long since I last flew. Just as I was about to give up, another problem ensued, my starter wouldn’t disengage! I quickly flipped off the battery master to kill the deviant starter. Great!
I pushed it back into the hangar and pulled the top cowl to investigate. Starter relays can become stuck, sort of temporarily welded together due to high amperage. In this case it was from starting with low voltage on the battery – duh! I know this, but I was thinking more about going than I was about what the airplane was telling me. There’s a lesson here.
A couple of taps on the relay and it came unstuck. I then borrowed a battery charger from the airport manager and let it charge while I put the cowling back on.
Once charged and preheated (again), I pushed it back out for another attempt.
This time the start was successful and I taxied to the active. The run-up revealed a much improved magneto check thanks to the new spark plugs. Continue reading
Anti Air Cam
I pride myself on being a pretty reasonable guy. I’m not quick to judge and I’m pretty considerate of others, but in spite of all that I couldn’t restrain myself from sharing my thoughts on Sport Aviation’s most recent cover-plane.
- Takeoff and landings in 100-300′
- Single-engine takeoff capability - impressive!
- Unparalleled views from the front office
- Super low and slow loitering
- Amphibious capability (optional)
What would I buy….Globe Swift
This is the third installment in a series of articles based on a hypothetical set of airplane ownership criteria. Note: This information is strictly the opinion of the author. Your mileage may vary. Our previous installments where on LSA category aircraft: #1 here and #2 here for $10,000 and $20,000 respectively.
The goal this time will be to spend $30,000 for a nice certified aircraft (not LSA).
So if I was limited to the criteria above what would I buy? Continue reading
New Spark Plugs
In troubleshooting a bad magneto check, I have found at least one thing that certainly needed to be addressed – my spark plugs.
After watching a webinar on the subject over at EAA.org – link here, I learned some interested things about spark plug and their health. After a couple of easy tests, and two bad spark plugs found, I decided to change out the whole group with a fresh set. Continue reading